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SCOTTY shows At the border – Collection of material on the Bulgarian-Turkish border | 25.02.-25.03.2023

Editors’ Choice

The Kreuzberg project space SCOTTY is showing the exhibition At the border with Ruken Aslan, Ayşe Tülay, Janis Schroeder, curated by Sigrun Drapatz, from 25 February 2023 (opening 24.02.). Southeastern Europe is a multi-ethnic home for people with diverse languages and religions. For centuries, ethnicity was not a key distinguishing factor. This changed with the influence of major European powers in the middle of the 19th century. They juxtaposed the concept of belonging to an ethnic to the notion of belonging to a religious group. The new concept of identity quickly spread throughout the region. This resulted in uprisings against the Ottoman rule, and as well in hegemonic claims against other population groups. A bloody trail of massacres, expulsions and refugees has been running through Southeastern Europe since, giving rise to small-scale, mostly homogeneous nation-states.

Fig. above: border line pattern, Ruken Aslan

After the end of the 1st World War, this policy manifested itself in population transfer and forced resettlements. With the reorganization of Europe after the 2nd World War, Bulgaria was politically linked to the Soviet Union, Turkey belonged to the Western Alliance. From 1980 onwards, Bulgaria introduced a tightened policy of restrictions against Muslim minority, coupled with a “Bulgarianization campaign” which forcibly “Bulgarianized” 800,000 muslim names between 1984 and 1989. The fierce resistance of those affected prompted the Bulgarian government to open the border with Turkey in 1989 and more than 350,000 people left for Turkey.

Ruken Aslan

Ruken Aslan’s drawings are a dense web of lines, image fragments and text snippets. The collages of mythological narratives and newspaper catch phrases create an associative, multi-layered picture. Her narrative imagery combines the aesthetics of Art Deco graphics with contemporary comics.

The series “Borderline patterns” is shown in the exhibition. In it, the artist deals with the border region she lives in. Romantic ideas of “being on the road”, “homecoming”, “another life”, “the great West” are invoked, as well as the topics of flight and forced resettlement. 

Ruken Aslan studied art in Istanbul at Mimar Sinan University and Hacettepe University, where she graduated with a master’s degree in “Reality in Abstract Painting”. She holds a PhD from Marmara University on “Romantic Attitude in Plastic Arts”.  She currently teaches as an associate professor at Trakya University in Edirne and Marmara University in İstanbul. Ruken Aslan lives in Edirne and Istanbul.

Janis Schroeder

Janis Schroeder artistically explores landscapes and habitats.  In his research and archival work, he searches for stories, historical documents and images, which he juxtaposes with his own photographs, video recordings and intuitive drawings.

During two trips to the region and by researching archives in Bulgaria, Turkey and Germany, Janis Schroeder explored the Bulgarian-Turkish border landscape. For the exhibition he created a collage of found and self-created images, texts and sound material. It is a personal geography of the region, which also critically examines his own perspective and privileges.

Janis Schroeder studied art at the art academies in Münster and Geneva as well as visual anthropology at the Free University of Berlin. In Geneva, he was employed in the field of research-based art as an artistic-scientific assistant and participated in the research project “The Anthropocene Atlas of Geneva”. Janis Schroeder lives in Berlin.

Ayşe Tülay

Ayşe Tülay often works with objects and artifacts that convey stories. In the two channel video work “Boundary” we see a young girl wearing a traditional Bulgarian shirt in a park. The shirt is an heirloom of the artist’s family. It was a gift from her mother-in-law who brought it with her when the family was expelled from Bulgaria in 1989. The work was created in 2022/23, while the artist went to Sofia to apply for Bulgarian citizenship for her children.

Ayşe Tülay studied art at Akdenis University in Antalya and Marmara University in Istanbul where she graduated with a master’s degree. Ayşe Tülay lives in Istanbul.

Accompanying program

Film screening and artist talk with Birgit Auf der Lauer, Caspar Pauli and Janis Schroeder, moderated by Juliane Zelwies.

During an Istanbul scholarship, Birgit Auf der Lauer and Caspar Pauli created the video  “Good Smugglers / Bad Escape Helpers – Gute Schleuser / Schlechte Fluchthelfer”. 

Using this piece as a starting point, the conversation will focus on the works of artists, who deal with regions where borders can easily be crossed by some, while others have to pay dearly and often in secret for the same passage.


Opening: 24. February 2023, 7:00 pm

Exhibition: Saturday, 25. February, until Saturday, 25. March 2023
Sun – Fri 3:00 – 7:00 pm
Sat 2:00 – 6:00 pm


Oranienstraße 46
10969 Berlin-Kreuzberg

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